Saturday, August 28, 2010

The Emerald Princesses

Aboard the Emerald Princess there was a nightly event on the schedule called the "LGBT get-together" to help gay singles and couples meet the others aboard.  Overall there were something like sixteen of us that showed up, out of a couple thousand passengers.  The event itself wasn't anything other than a place to meet where there would be free champagne, but it was interesting to meet up with other couples, and it was reassuring to have a group of people to keep coming back to each night to contrast with the fleeting meetings with random people throughout the week.  We ate dinner several times with the group in addition to the get-togethers, so we got to know each other well.

The group was pretty diverse, with men and women ranging from retirees to businesspeople to students (though strongly tending to the former), from connoisseurs of five hundred dollar shirts to connoisseurs of random anonymous sex.  It made for an interesting base for conversation, even if it did drift into the predictable gay stereotypes a little too often (fashion, shopping, sex).  I nicknamed our team the Emerald Princesses.

I had pretty low expectations about those LGBT get-togethers.  I'm often annoyed by gay people; flamboyance gets on my nerves, vapid and fake people drive me nuts, and I really don't have any interest in talking about shoes.  Maybe the experience helped improve my tolerance for gay people, which I realize sounds absurd.  After the first get-together I was wondering if I wanted to go to the next one, but by the end I wasn't even considering skipping.  After wearing down those obnoxious stereotype fa├žades I got to know the people behind them, and it was fun and gave me some interesting perspectives that I otherwise wouldn't have had.  Now I've met someone who's been to the home of Michael Jackson.  I'd hardly talked to any retired couples outside my family at length before, let alone any gay retired couples who might have insight into what things might be like for me in several decades.  And now I've had the experience of meeting someone who would one moment tell me about the orgies that occur on gay-only cruises with the excitement of a sixteen-year-old boy, only to tell us all how important family and monogamy were to him minutes later.

The fact that he had a very obvious crush on me is not particularly relevant, I think.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Laziness truly knows no bounds

I get my groceries delivered by Amazon on Saturdays, so on Fridays I move the grocery bins that I keep on the side of my house to the front door so the guy can pick them up.  I just went out to put them there and found myself very slightly annoyed that I had to go all the way outside for a few seconds just so I'll have groceries picked out, put in boxes, driven to my home, and delivered to my doorstep tomorrow.  Apparently laziness truly knows no bounds.  In a couple decades I'll be annoyed when Diet Coke isn't delivered directly to my refrigerator.


I wonder if an efficient way for criminals to easily identify houses where the owners aren't home would be to look for people who left their trash cans out for an extra day after everyone else on their block took them back in.  You could drive through a neighborhood and scout burglary targets more quickly that way than actually lurking around and watching for movement.

Then again, I was home almost all day today and my trash cans are still outside, so...

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The blind date meal plan

So, Jason and I are back from a cruise to the Caribbean, which excuses my extended blogging absence.  It was fun, hot, luxurious, pricey, and without practical access to the internet.  That doesn’t really make a good story, though, so I won’t bore you with every detail.  (I’ve got photos of the cruise and ship if you’re interested.)

* * *

One thing about the cruise that I thought that I would detest and actually didn’t mind at all was that I was almost always surrounded by people.  There would be the occasional moment when I would be alone or nearly so when I’d get up and watch a sunrise, or when I’d just wander around the upper decks of the ship looking around, but for the most part, there were generally crew and passengers everywhere I looked and every place I went.  That’s not even mentioning the swarms and crowds that were present at every port.  But somehow this all did not set off any of my introversion alarms.

I imagine that I found all these people unusually tolerable because I didn’t have to interact with them.  There were thousands of people on the ship, all doing their own thing.  They were on vacation, and I was on vacation, and while we happened to be taking our vacations on the same gargantuan floating city with a population greater than most towns in Nebraska, they were fairly separate vacations.  I’d see hundreds of random new people any given time I’d leave my room, and yet most of them I would never see again.  I got to know some people from dinners and get-togethers and I’d see them around from time to time, but these cases were an unusual (though fun) exception.

None of that explains why I enjoyed having meals with randomly selected people, an experience that I assume is basically the same as Chatroulette with an all-you-can-eat menu in place of the graphic live nudity.  If you’re on the “anytime dining” plan, you show up in one of the fancy dining rooms whenever you feel like it, and you can either eat by yourself or with friends, or alternately with whoever else seemed to be hungry at the time.  I found that blind date meal plan to be strangely compelling.  It fit the cruise concept of a shared vacation with total strangers perfectly, and while certainly not every person I met for a meal was interesting or insightful, it gave me a less terrifying way to meet people.  I met a tattooed and pierced mother and daughter pair from England, an engineer for Ford, a mechanical engineer and his family from just outside Paris who spoke little English, and of course a whole slew of ultrarepublican retired people from Florida who go on a few Caribbean cruises a year.  I’ll never see them again or talk to them again, but for some reason I enjoyed being forced to get to know them.

I’ve long assumed that I would find living in a big-city urban environment to be quite distasteful, and this overall pleasant experience has made me question that assumption.  I will still, however, maintain for the record that I hate meeting new people and small talk and those sorts of things.